This is not the kind of post I usually write. But I feel like I can’t just keep silent on this…even if I don’t really know the words to say. (Forewarning: this is a long post, but one my heart needed to write, even though it is a bit imperfectly patched together, just a flood of thoughts that I’m still making sense of and working though…thank you for grace.)
Our world is in crisis.
Truth is, our world has been in crisis ever since sin entered the story. Tragedy, pain, disease, trauma, disasters, heartache, evil…the world has been filled with these things, broken by these things, for so very long. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why He died and conquered death through His resurrection. To break the curse of sin, to conquer death, to bring hope and new life to this broken busted up world…to bring hope and new life to me, to you…to all.
He was and still is our hope in the middle of all that is horrible and sad in this world. He is our hope.
And the world sure needs some hope today. Because it seems like we are hitting a crisis point, in so many ways. And I think we are reaching a time when it is becoming impossible to remain naïve or to claim ignorance about the realities in our world today. You have to intentionally choose to not hear and not see, you have to intentionally look away and ignore…because the realities are all around us.
Babies are killed before they have the chance to breathe their first breath, their tiny body parts sold for testing…as if they were without soul, without worth. Children are kidnapped and raped, sold to the highest bidder. Slavery is still very real and very active. Races are turning on races, as if the color of the skin implies value of the soul. Wars and fighting and ISIS beheadings…people fleeing for their lives, leaving homes and family and sometimes even children behind.
To live in fear of your life…willing to face the very real risk of a horrible tragic death in exchange for the tiniest fraction of a chance of being able to live without that fear....I just can’t even imagine.
I can’t imagine because I’ve never had to live that story. The story where your child is stolen and raped over and over and over, then sold into slavery to the highest bidder so they can do it again…and again…and again.
The story where you live in the middle of a war-torn country, hesitant to walk out of your front door for fear that you will be attacked or tortured or killed.
The story where to be a Christian doesn’t just mean people may tell you not to pray at football games or sing about Jesus in public, but it means your daughters may be taken and raped, your sons may be killed, your home taken away…it means you may lose the very head on your shoulders, cut right off simply because you claim the name of Jesus.
The story where you are forced out of your home, out of your city, out of your country, away from everything you know, because to stay would mean to die, it would mean your children may be taken and your family may be murdered or starve to death…but to leave means living illegally in a country where people don’t really want you, in a culture you don't know surrounded by a language you don't understand, with complete uncertainty of the future.
It’s an impossible choice. An impossible reality for so many people.
SO. MANY. PEOPLE.
I’ve not lived that story. I was born in America. I’ve lived a life of privilege. Though our bank account, our lack of any real savings, and our humble little home might lead you to believe that we are not at all rich by American standards, the fact that we even have a home and full bellies and full closets and a few dollars in our wallet would tell you we are far richer than the majority of the world.
Why have I been given so much, when others are living with so little? Why can I lay my head down on my soft pillows at night, without fear for the lives of my family, while there are others lying on concrete floors or in the bottom of a boat or in a shipping container, fleeing and hiding for their very lives, in constant fear for the safety of the ones they love. Why?
Maybe…just maybe…I am where I am, with all that I have for such a time as this.
I am not blessed so that I can hoard my blessings and turn away from things that I don’t understand or that make me sad or uncomfortable.
For too long I have just looked the other way. It is so hard to open up my heart and my ears…maybe because it hurts, or maybe because I don’t really know what to do about it…or maybe because it is just easier to live a vanilla kind of faith that just talks about doing good but doesn’t ever put hands and feet to those words and do the hard thing of really living it and doing it and being it.
I fully acknowledge that this stuff is hard to read about, it’s difficult to accept...the tragedy of little Aylan, the reality for millions fleeing their homes in fear. I can't even imagine. Part of me doesn't want to read their stories, to hear their voices...because my heart can barely stand the sadness of it all. It's so much easier to just pull the covers up over my pampered North American eyes and tell myself that this has nothing to do with me, that there's nothing really I can do.
But I can't just turn away. I don't think Jesus would turn away.
So at the very least I must listen. I must hear their voices. It’s only through really hearing the heart of another that I can hear the beat of Jesus’ heart for them. And His heart beats with a love that gave everything, that gave His own Son, to woo them to Himself. He loves them. So I must listen and I must love them too.
And then I must do all I can with all I've been so generously given.
Ann Voskamp wrote in her post this week, "There's always enough abundance and grace to welcome those in need, because it's only by abundant grace that any of us are here--and if there is abundant grace for us, by God, there's abundant grace for all of us."
There is enough. There is abundance. I have more than enough to share…more than enough to give…more than enough.
I am blessed to bless.
I’ll be the first to admit that it is overwhelming...it is so hard to take in, so hard to not feel utterly hopeless to do anything that would make any kind of real difference.
But we can’t just look away. We can’t just ignore those who need refuge and safety, love and grace...who need to experience the love of Jesus, the kind of love that reaches out past the safety of our church walls and beyond our comfort zones, the kind of love that has hands and feet that does what it says it believes...the kind of love that is a light in the darkness, a hope to the hopeless, a comfort to the broken and the abandoned and the orphaned and the alone.
I won’t even pretend that I have all the answers. I’m only sharing what I am learning and reading and finding…ways we can begin to give our faith hands and feet, to reach across the waters and the walls and the cultures that divide us and reach into the lives of those who need help. Because I truly believe that we all can do something. I believe as followers of Jesus, we are called to do more than just warm a pew on Sunday mornings…we are called to go and do and be...to BE the Church, to BE Body of Christ to this desperately broken world.
So if you want to help, here are some things I’ve found, some places to start:
- First, just listen. Listen to their stories, like this one from The New York Times: Desperate Crossing. And just imagine if this were your family, your children, you.
- This is a great post that lists 8 ways you can help refugees across the world, with links to lots of places to donate:
- Sign this petition for America to allow more Syrian refugees shelter here. (Regardless of your political stand on immigration…these are refugees (trying to save their lives), not simply immigrants (trying to better their lives)…they need help, they need hope. We have enough to share…we have more than enough. We can help.)
- 5 Ways to Stand Up and Be the Church in the World's Worst Refugee Crisis Since WWII
- Check out this Facebook page for updates and links of ways to help: Aylan’s Dream
- Visit WeWelcomeRefugees.com for ways to help and connect with other who are helping.
- I’ve made 3 little printables that I’ve added to the shop:
100% of the proceeds from all three of these prints will go directly toward organizations that are on the ground helping people in crisis (Doctors Without Borders, MOAS, Preemptive Love Coalition, World Vision, and Hand in Hand For Syria). Just click on the image of the print you want to see more details and information. And when you order your print, you'll even get the option to select which organization you would like your donation to go to! It's an easy way to help, and you'll have a print that will remind you to pray for those in crisis, and to do all that you can with all that you have to make a difference right where you are.
Of course, these are not all the ways you can help. And the refugee crisis is not the only crisis in our world. But just because we can't do everything doesn't mean we shouldn't do something. Just do one thing. If everyone does just one thing, just imagine the difference we can make.
"...when we see a need to help restore dignity to school girls in Kenya, provide water for a community, a job for an impoverished woman or the image of a drowned refugee toddler in red tennis shoes - and we are moved to act - this isn't us.
This is God whispering Do something. Don't let the moment pass. Take your own suggestion and instead of discouraging a person trying, join them. Put your good idea to work! Because you're probably right: you can make it better, but not by making suggestions from the comfort of home with nothing to lose. No, let's put our faith and feet in action."
I know we can’t solve all the world’s problems. We can’t fix everything. Only God can make everything right. And one day He will…one day He will return and He will set all things right again. He will once and for all crush the enemy and mend this broken world and make all the wrong things right. That final chapter has already been written, the end is already secure and for sure…Good wins! Boy, I can’t wait for that day...even so come, Lord Jesus!
And until then, may my heart be soft and my ears be open and my hands and feet be ready to do what God is calling me to do. Because there is a world out there that needs Jesus, that needs to see and experience His love in real and tangible ways. And God loves the world through His people, through those of us who have experienced His grace and His hope, who are clothed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), empowered by His Spirit (Acts 1:8) and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). He has already given us everything we need (2 Peter 1:3) to be salt and light in this dark world. We just have to die to ourselves and our comfort and our safety and be willing to risk selflessly, give generously, and love lavishly.
Thank you for reading and for hearing my heart. Is there something God has put on your heart and has been speaking to you about? How are you listening to Him and following Him today? Maybe your burden is not for people across the world, maybe God has burdened you for someone across the street…? Whatever it is, when He speaks, when He nudges, when He calls…may we be quick to listen and obey and to give our faith hands and feet, willing to go and do whatever it is He asks us to do.